Artifacts in the Archives – Artifacts that inspire us

In light of  National Poetry Month, Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) staff are highlighting artifacts that inspire us.

Ashtray #2001-R154.003

Photograph of a commemorative ashtray, yellow with rd text and gold border around rim, "With honor to the past, with vision for the future, 1858 centennial 1958, Iowa State College"

Commemorative Ashtray #2001-R154.003

Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist

ISU Special Collections has seven or eight commemorative ashtrays. To my way of thinking, if you like the message about the school’s centennial, you wouldn’t want to cover it with ashes and cigarette butts, would you? That’s like lining a spittoon with the state flag.

I find these artifacts inspirational because they remind me of how prevalent smoking used to be in the U.S. When I was a child — I was born in 1971 — people were allowed to smoke in more places than they are now. Not only was the smoke annoying (at best), but they littered the ground with countless cigarette butts. Even if you set aside the health effects, smokers made a major nuisance of themselves. My father smoked unfiltered “Camels” all day. I thought the packaging looked cool, but his habit was so unappealing that I never took it up. Thank goodness for that.

We’ve come  along way since then. I suppose there’s not much left of the commemorative ashtray industry.

Button #2002-R001.025

Yellow political button with dark text that says "June 7th, I march for full suffrage will you?"

Suffrage button #2002-R001.025

Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist

This button from our Artifact Collection inspires me because the work of first-wave feminists in securing women’s right to vote was so important in propelling forward the advances in women’s rights, a movement that has been carried on by so many generations of women since the late 19th century and continues today. I cannot imagine not being able to participate fully in the political system, or not being able to own property, to work whether married or single, and so many other rights that we tend to take for granted today. My grandma was born in 1922, two years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment. That helps put in perspective for me just how recently women have gained these rights.

This button is from the Carrie Chapman Catt artifact collection, the well-known Iowa suffragist and Iowa State alum.

Daguerreotype of Benjamin Gue #2001-R001

Daguerreotype, left hand side black and white photograph of Benjamin Gue, as a young man, and the right hand side is a flower.

Daguerreotype of Benjamin Gue #2001-R001

Olivia Garrison, Reference Coordinator

Benjamin Gue was one of the authors of a bill to establish a state agricultural college and model farm (what would become Iowa State University). This artifact is inspiring because to me it represents the very purpose of the work we do in Special Collections and University Archives. Part of SCUA’s mission is to preserve the history of the University for future generations to access and learn from. Daguerreotypes were among the first modes of “printing” photographic images and are susceptible to damage with too much light, or too high or low humidity and/or temperature. Providing stable conditions is an important part of our jobs. Another part is providing access to our collections. I think this artifact is a great example of a piece of history that might be lost entirely, or at least lost to the majority of researchers, if it were not for the work we do here.

Banned Books Buttons #s2001.R026.001-03

Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist

It blows my mind to see which books have been banned  by governments around the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_books_banned_by_governments.  Libraries and schools still ban books and many of them are classics and award-winning books. I am inspired by these “Read Banned Books” buttons because books inspire me.  The stories within them and the way the authors have crafted their words to tell their stories make me feel connected to people, places, and ideas that are usually beyond my scope of experience.


#TBT: Louis Armstrong at ISU and International Jazz Day 2017

 

Louis Armstrong with ISU mascot Cy in 1966

The incomparable Louis Armstrong with ISU mascot Cy in 1966. (University Photograph Collection, RS 22/7.)

Jazz legend Louis Armstrong visited Iowa State University twice. The 1950 Homecoming festivities included no less than four performances by Armstrong and his band: two dances, the “Pep Barbecue,” and a concert in the Memorial Union! This may seem remarkable because in 1950, Armstrong was an international star. But for decades, Armstrong played 300 or more live shows per year. Touring with a big band was no longer feasible for most bandleaders, but Armstrong — who first made a name for himself in the 1920s with small-group recordings — was not reliant on the big band format. In 1950, Louis Armstrong and His All Stars probably played ISU as a six-piece band featuring Arvell Shaw, bass; Barney Bigard, clarinet; Cozy Cole, drums; Earl “Fatha” Hines, piano; Jack Teagarden, trombone; and of course, Louis Armstrong on trumpet and vocals. Each of these musicians is numbered among the masters of traditional jazz (for lack of a better term).

As shown in the photograph above, Louis Armstrong returned to ISU in 1966, two years after his biggest-selling record (“Hello, Dolly!”) was released. In the late 1960s, Armstrong continued performing publicly in spite of health problems. He passed away in 1971 at his home in Queens, New York City.

International Jazz Day 2017 is April 30, and it’s a special one. This year, the host city is Havana, Cuba. As usual, the roster of artists is drawn from around the world, but this year the lineup includes quite a few Cubans; and, now that the travel ban is lifted, the audience will include Americans! So, this is a big deal on several levels. Cuban musicians are a big part of jazz history and of current practice. I’m looking forward to watching the webcast of the All-Star Global Concert on Sunday, April 30 at 8 PM Central.

 


#TBT Forestry

Forestry Student, 1916

Student with pine cones, presumably at Forestry Camp, 1916 RS 09/14, Box 718

Earth Day is coming this Saturday, and we are celebrating with some pictures from the Department of Forestry camp records.  Forestry is currently part of the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, but was part of the Department of Horticulture and Forestry at the time the photos were taken.

Forestry Summer Camp, 1916

Forestry Summer Camp, Glacier National Park, Montana, 1916 RS 9/14, Box 718

Pictures from the Forestry department are a perfect fit for Earth Day.  According to the Iowa State University Forestry website, “The forestry curriculum offers courses dealing with the management of forest ecosystems for multiple benefits including biodiversity, recreation, water, wilderness, wildlife, and wood and fiber. Conservation and preservation of natural resources are emphasized.”

To learn more about forestry camp, please visit this blog post.  Enjoy these photos from over 100 years ago, and have a Happy Earth Day!


#TBT Iowa’s State Parks: Marking 100 Years

13-05-A_Pammel_1026-002-002a

Carl Fritz Hemmings (left) with Louis Pammel (right) (from University Photograph Collection, box 1026)

Today’s Throw Back Thursday photograph is of Iowa State botany professor Louis Pammel with Ledges State Park custodian Carl Fritz Hemmings. This year marks the centennial of the passage of the first state parks act in Iowa, which was approved April 12, 1917. The Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives  plans a summer exhibition, “This movement for a more beautiful Iowa”: The Early Years of Iowa’s State Park System” which will open to the public on May 17.

Iowa’s landscape of native prairie, forests, and wetlands was rapidly disappearing by the early part of the 20th century due to an expanding population and growing agricultural operations. Individuals from across Iowa advocated for the legislature to set aside land to conserve Iowa’s dwindling natural landscapes resulting in the passage of Iowa’s state parks bill in 1917. Iowa State played a central role in establishing the state park system and the state of Iowa soon became a national leader in the state park movement. The exhibit highlights Iowa State’s role in the state park movement.


#TBT Camel at Vet Med

Veterinary_Medicine_College_1963

University Photographs 14/5/B, Box 1273

Today’s TBT photo was taken in front of the Vet Med clinic in 1963.  As you can see, a camel is being led to the building, perhaps for treatment or an examination.  That is quite the departure from the cats and dogs you usually expect to see at the vet’s office!

To learn more about veterinary medicine at Iowa State University, please see our finding aid or stop by the reading room, open 9-5, Monday-Friday.


Rare Books Highlights: Squire on the Longitude

A book open to two pages showing interspered text and rows of symbols.

Pages of Squire’s Proposal showing symbols of her own invention.

Squire, Jane. A proposal to determine our longitude. London: Printed for the author, and sold by S. Cope … and by the Booksellers of London and Westminster, 1743. Call number: QB225 S66x, 1743.

Women’s History Month was established to honor the contribution of women to society, and Jane Squire was not at all shy about putting herself forward as a women with a contribution to make.

Squire was an eighteenth century British woman and the only woman to participate openly when the British Parliament passed the Longitude Act in 1714 that offered a reward to whomever could establish a workable method for determining longitude at sea. Latitude was much easier to calculate than longitude, and the inability to accurately determine a ship’s east-west location sometimes resulted in shipwrecks.

Jane Squire boldly put forward her proposal, expecting it to be taken seriously, even though it was not considered proper at the time for women to engage in navigation and mathematics, especially for monetary gain. In a letter to Sir Thomas Hanmer, published in the book, she counters the objection with a hint of sly wit:

The Term Mathematick, I with great Ease resign to Men; but to count, to measure, &c. which are now generally suppos’d to be included in it; are so naturally, the Properties of every reasonable Creature, that it is impossible to renounce them, and deserve that Honour. (30)

And later she writes, in a frequently-quoted passage, “I do not remember any Play-thing, that does not appear to me a mathematical Instrument; nor any mathematical Instrument, that does not appear to me a Play-thing: I see not, therefore why I should confine myself to Needles, Cards, and Dice; much less to such Sorts of them only, as are at present in Use” (31).

If you are interested in learning more about Squire’s unusual and sometimes difficult life, I highly recommend the blog post, “The Lady of the Longitude: Jane Squire,” from the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Science and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge.

Our copy of Squire’s Proposal is a second edition, bound in leather and decorated with some unusual symbols that seem to be Squire’s invention and can be seen within the text in the image that heads this post. According to the aforementioned CRASSH blog post, this is the common binding for this book, which is interesting at a time when most books were sold unbound.

Shows front cover of book bound in leather with a black circle in the center fo the cover with cross-shaped symbols stamped in gold into the circle.

Front cover of Squire’s Proposal, showing symbols stamped into the leather binding.

Inside the front cover, there is evidence of an interesting provenance, or ownership history, for our copy, indicating that it was owned by at least two notable people.

Inside front cover of a book showing a bookplate in the center with a coat of arms of a birth of pray with wings extended rising out of a crown surrounded by a ring with the words White Wallingwells. Second bookplate is a simple name in white on gray reading Harrison D. Horblit

Two bookplates inside ISU’s copy of Squire’s Proposal.

The round armorial bookplate in the center has the words “White” and “Wallingwells” in the circle and appears to belong to the White Baronetcy of Tuxford and Wallingwells in County of Nottingham, England. Sir Thomas Woollaston White, 1st Baronet, lived from 1767-1816, and could easily have added this book to his library. The plain name plate reading “Harrison D. Horblit” indicates the noted collector of rare books in the history of science, navigation, and mathematics. Horblit is the author of One hundred books famous in science: based on an exhibition at the Grolier Club (call number: Q124 H781o), now a common reference book for rare book collectors and librarians–though it does not include Squire’s Proposal. It is pretty exciting to have a book with such an interesting provenance!

The copy also includes the fold-out summary of the proposal.

Unfolded large sheet of paper with many sections of text and charts of symbols

Fold out summary of Squire’s proposal bound into the front of the book.

This summary gives a visual demonstration of the proposal’s complexity. The CRASSH blog post describes the proposed method as based on “real astronomical research and intellectual trends” but not easy to put into practice. “The scheme centred on dividing the heavens into more than a million segments which could be recognised visually, so that young sailors would not need advanced mathematics, and which were described through a new universal language.”

This book presents an interesting element in the history of navigation and a woman who was not afraid to tread in new paths.

Cited

“The Lady of the Longitude: Jane Squire.” CRASSH blog, Posted 1 Dec. 2014, CRASSH: Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Science and Humanities, www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/blog/post/the-lady-of-the-longitude. Accessed 28 March 2017.


#TBT Iowa State team designs, builds, & races solar cars

Team PrISUm competing in the Sunrayce, July 1990. (Team PrISUm (Iowa State University) Records, RS 22/5/0/30, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.)

The Iowa State University solar car team, Team PrISUm, is a student organization that designs, builds, and races solar cars in the American Solar Challenge (previously known as Sunrayce). ISU Special Collections and University Archives has a collection of the team’s records (RS 22/5/0/30).

The car pictured above finished the 1800+ mile race in just over 109 hours; the winning car, by the University of Michigan, made it in under 73 hours.


#TBT Sigma Alpha Epsilon bunny party

Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members partying in 1978 or 1979. (Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, Iowa Gamma Chapter Records, RS 22/11/2/33, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.)

ISU Special Collections and University Archives has a wealth of information about student organizations over the years. Here is a rare late-70s photo of SAE fraternity members dressed as bunnies and staying out of trouble. The ISU chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (“Iowa Gamma”) was established in 1905. For more images and documents, see RS 22/11/2/33.


National Ag Day 2017

black-and-white photograph, young woman on tractor in field.

Extension photograph from University Photographs

Today is National Ag Day 2017. National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America (ACA), you can check them out on their Facebook page. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community. The ACA was founded in 1973, and their mission is:

To educate all American’s about the importance of American Agriculture.

In celebration of National Ag Day, check out some of our agricultural collections.

4-H boys and girls posing with their sheep

Extension photograph from University Photographs

Drop in some time to do some research. Our reading room is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.